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Forget the Latinos 

Chris Tomlinson is a Chron business columnist.  He is also one of the authors of the book “Forget the Alamo” that came out last year. He has a take on the new news outlet that is coming to H-Town. Here it is: Tomlinson: Billionaires’ good intentions for Texas journalism come with high risks (houstonchronicle.com). 

He is not really a fan of the new news venture. He is also not well informed about local news operations.  Here is part of his take:  

What I find difficult to grasp is why donors are financing a new nonprofit that will compete for funding in a city with a healthy daily newspaper, four television news outlets, a significant public media operation, multiple talk radio stations and dozens of websites. 

There are six local television news outlets. I presume he left out the two Spanish-language TV stations, Telemundo and Univision. They get big ratings too. Forget the Latinos. Such a glaring omission. 

On a related note, I don’t think the Chron is happy with the new news outlet setting up shop here in H-Town. 

In the looking back section of today’s Chron, it says two years ago today, in the USA, the first known case of COVID-19 surfaced in the state of Washington with this quote: 

“U.S. officials stressed that they believed the overall risk of the virus to the American public remained low.” 

That is 860,000 dead in the USA including 78,000 in Texas. How did your last two years go? 

The Dean got some real good front page coverage in the hard copy of the Chron today. Here is the online version: As amendment gives some Texas lawmakers $140K annual pension, one legislator says ‘hell no’ to offer (houstonchronicle.com). 

The Dean is saying heck no to a cozy and sweet pension deal. Nice press for The Dean. It doesn’t get any better than that. 

I don’t care who you are. You never want the FBI looking at your stuff right before an election. Just ask former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton back in 2016. Cong. Henry Cuellar from Laredo must be feeling a bit queasy now that his home has been raided by the FBI a couple of days ago. Cong. Cuellar is in a tough reelection fight against Jessica Cisneros who came within a few percentage points of knocking him off two years ago. 

It was very cold yesterday and I had flashbacks from 13 months ago. 

New News Outlet

Commentary was surprised to hear this yesterday. Here is from the Chron: 

Five foundations, including three local philanthropies, are investing more than $20 million to launch an independent nonprofit news outlet in Houston, entering the city’s competitive media landscape. 

The Houston Endowment, the Kinder Foundation and Arnold Ventures on Wednesday said the yet-to-be-named news operation will be one of the largest of its kind nationally when it launches late this year or early next year on multiple platforms. The philanthropies, joined by journalism foundations The American Journalism Project and the Knight Foundation, said they seek to “elevate the voices of Houstonians” and “answer the community’s calls for additional news coverage.” 

“All Houstonians deserve to be informed about the issues that impact their lives,” said Ann Stern, CEO of the Houston Endowment. “We are thrilled to support the expansion of local reporting in Greater Houston – combining the highest standards of journalism with an innovative community-focused reporting model.” 

Here is the entire read: Houston philanthropies invest $20M to launch nonprofit news outlet (houstonchronicle.com). 

I wonder if it is going to be the Trib comes to H-Town.  

Commentary looks at it this way.  The more the merrier. I don’t believe that too much news coverage is a bad thing. Remember how sad we were when the Houston Post folded like 25 or so years ago. 

I watch the local news when I get up. They cover every bar and convenience store shooting. We need more investigative journalism in H-Town. 

Evan Smith, the co-founder of the Trib is leaving the Trib this year. Maybe they can recruit him to put together H-Town’s new news outlet. 

Commentary glanced at a few campaign contribution and expenditure reports over at Harris County. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is sitting on over a million bucks.  I couldn’t find a report for Erica Davis. 

On the GOP side, Vidal Martinez raised over half a million bucks. He has five times more cash-on-hand than his nearest competitor in the GOP primary for county judge.  

One year ago today, President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were sworn in.  It has been quite a year for sure. 

Space Cowboys 

The Astros own the Sugar Land Skeeters, the AAA minor league team. Yesterday, the Astros announced a rebranding event at Constellation Field, home of the Skeeters.  We just learned that the team would have a name change to Space Cowboys.  I immediately thought of the Steve Miller Band tune, “The Joker,” and here are some of the lyrics: 

Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah 
Some call me the gangster of love 
Some people call me Maurice 
‘Cause I speak of the pompatus of love 

And this: 

I’m a joker, I’m a smoker 
I’m a midnight toker 
I get my loving on the run 

We are going to have fun with the Space Cowboys. 

The arsehole Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted this moronic crap yesterday: 

“I’m running for re-election to pass a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that will DELIVER substantial and lasting property tax cuts.” 

That’s not going to happen, and he knows better and knows that. An income tax is off the table. Sales taxes won’t go up. Unless you gut school districts and local government and that’s not going to happen.  Communities want their schools, police and fire departments, and parks funded.  They also want trash picked up and reliable drinking water. Abbott should try disbanding his border army for starters and see what kind of relief taxpayers get. 

I saw this tweet last night: 

Scott Braddock 

@scottbraddock 

Any Texas Democrats betting on a blackout isn’t a coin flip. It’s betting $100 on red 7 at the roulette table. Long odds but a jackpot if it hits #txlege 

Elections are not won hoping for a grid failure.  We can beat the GOP in Texas on them running Texas into the ground. 

An HPD officer handed me a moving violation citation last October over in my neighborhood. I told the officer at the time that I didn’t do anything wrong. A few days later, I got some letters from those law firms who specialize in traffic court, so I hired a firm. 

My court date was yesterday over on Lubbock Street. I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I was surprised when I drove up with the parking availability. I have the parking meter app, so I just tapped my phone two or three times and didn’t have to slip the piece of paper under my wiper blade. 

I was in and out of the municipal court building in less than 45 minutes with the case being dismissed.  Nice job to the judge running Court #11 yesterday. I am glad I hired the law firm. It was worth it. 

Yesterday, I signed up with the USPS to get the 4 free COVID-19 tests and was rejected. They said my address came up as a business address and the test gizmos were only being sent to residential addresses. Maybe I need to remove the neon sign in my front yard. Sigh. 

Commentary is going to take a wild guess and say none of the candidates running in the H-Town City Council District G special election had a mail ballot component. Come on! That’s H-Town campaign 101. Every campaign should have a mail ballot component. Only 280 mail ballots have been sent to voters and only 73 have been returned. The election is in 6 days. 

Even in this voter suppression climate, you adjust the application with bold red font telling the 65 and older voter to add their Texas ID and last four SSN digits. That is negligent if you ask Commentary. Guess what? 

Maybe they should have let Isabel Longoria send out mail ballots to a few thousand Westside voters. 

My pal Jose tweeted this yesterday: 

Jose de Jesus Ortiz 

@OrtizKicks 

Happy birthday Kevin Costner. My favorite Costner movies: Dances with Wolves, Field of Dreams,  McFarland, USA, Tin Cup, Thirteen Days 

I won’t argue with Jose. Five is an injustice though.  “Bull Durham,” “No Way Out,” “Waterworld,” “For Love of the Game,” “The Bodyguard,” “The Untouchables,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “JFK,” and “A Perfect World” to name a few. 

I just watched “Draft Day” the other day which is very entertaining.  

Costner gets a lot of praise for his TV’s “Yellowstone,” but don’t forget “Hatfields & McCoys.” 

I actually ran into Costner in the 1990s at the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown H-Town. It was right after Mayor Bob Lanier’s victory party for his reelection. I remember Costner was wearing a full length camel hair coat.  I took a picture of him and my best friend. I asked him for an autograph and he signed it with his name and “Tin Cup” that he was in town filming. 

69 years ago today, Desi Arnaz, Jr. was born. 69 years ago today, “I Love Lucy” aired the episode where Little Ricky was born. 

Campaign Money 

Campaign contribution and expenditure reports are due today for state and local races.  Beto just announced that he has raised $7.2 million in just six weeks. Not bad at all. 

Here is what Commentary will be interested in seeing over the next day or so. Locally, what does Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo show and what does her opponent Erica David have in cash on hand.  Same for the Democratic candidates running in the newly redrawn Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4. 

I will be looking at how the Democratic candidates fare in State House District 147. 

On the statewide level, I want to know how Democrats running for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General are doing. 

On the GOP side we know that arsehole Gov. Greg Abbott will raise a ton of money. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will also likely announce a nice haul. It will be interesting to see how much AG Ken Paxton’s challengers announce they have in the bank. 

As I kind of mentioned yesterday, GOP elected officials who also support voter suppression put out tweets on MLK yesterday and got rightly dunked on. What did they expect? 

I don’t know what to say about this from Austin’s NPR station: 

The Texas Secretary of State’s office is having more trouble than usual getting enough voter registration cards to groups who help Texans register to vote. 

Sam Taylor, assistant secretary of state for communications, said supply chain issues have made it harder and more expensive to get paper, which means the Secretary of State’s office will be giving out fewer voter registration forms to groups ahead of elections this year. 

“We are limited in what we can supply this year, because of the paper shortage and the cost constraints due to the price of paper and the supply of paper,” he said. 

Grace Chimene, the president of the League of Women Voters of Texas, said it is not unusual for the Secretary of State to not have enough forms to fill all the requests it gets from groups like hers ahead of elections. This particular shortage, however, is affecting an important part of her group’s work: registering thousands of newly naturalized citizens. 

Chimene said in previous years, her group, which has chapters across the state, has been able to get enough forms to pass out at naturalization ceremonies. Often, she said, the group partners with the state to give out several thousand forms at each ceremony. 

“The League in Houston registers about 30,000 new citizens every year through these ceremonies in the past,” Chimene said. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a mix of in-person and remote ceremonies. Chimene said her group has either been handing out voter registration materials at in-person events or they’ve been sending out packets they put together ahead of time to those new citizens. 

Here is the entire read: Texas says supply chain issues have limited the number of voter registration forms it can give out | KUT Radio, Austin’s NPR Station. 

Supply chain issues and the inflation thing. It all boils down to the dumbarses who refuse to get vaccinated. Get the GD shot you morons! 

For County Judge 

Erica Davis, candidate for Harris County Judge in the Democratic primary, was on “What’s Your Point” yesterday for a brief interview. She had a tough on crime law enforcement message. 

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo completed the Houston marathon yesterday.  I wonder if any of her predecessors ever ran the marathon. How many other local elected officials have run the marathon? 

Commentary is voting for Judge Hidalgo.  

This past Saturday marked the 80th anniversary of the baseball letter from President Franklin Roosevelt to the MLB Commissioner encouraging him to keep playing baseball as we were into the second month of World War II. 

The past few days several folks put out warning tweets of sorts.  Don’t tweet out MLK message today if you oppose the voting rights bill that is being held up in the U.S. Senate. 

Let’s see. Pro tennis star hot shot doesn’t want to get vaccinated. Pro tennis star wants to go play tennis in a country that requires vaccines. Country says nope. Get the shot. 

Commentary won’t be piling on the Cowboys on how the game ended yesterday. I get what they were trying to do. They were just a couple of seconds short.   

Astros starting right fielder Kyle Tucker is 25 today. Happy Birthday Kyle? 

This is what we called voter suppression. This is not what the GOP called integrity at the ballot box. Here is from the Trib today: 

Hundreds of Texans seeking to vote by mail in the upcoming March primary elections are seeing their applications for ballots rejected by local election offices trying to comply with stricter voting rules enacted by Texas Republicans last year. 

Election officials in some of the state’s largest counties are rejecting an alarming number of mail-in applications because they don’t meet the state’s new identification requirements. Some applications are being rejected because of a mismatch between the new identification requirements and the data the state has on file to verify voters. 

Under Texas’ new voting law, absentee voters must include their driver’s license number or state ID number or, if they don’t have one, the last four digits of their Social Security number on their applications. If they don’t have those IDs, voters can indicate they have not been issued that identification. Counties must match those numbers against the information in an individual’s voter file to approve them for a mail-in ballot. 

In Harris County, 208 applications — roughly 16% of the 1,276 applications received so far — have been rejected based on the new rules. That includes 137 applications on which voters had not filled out the new ID requirements and 71 applications that included an ID number that wasn’t in the voter’s record. 

In Travis County, officials said they’ve rejected about half of the roughly 700 applications they’ve received so far, with the “vast majority” of rejections based on the new voting law. 

In Bexar County, officials have rejected 200 applications on which the ID section was not filled out. Another 125 were rejected because the voter had provided their driver’s license number on the application, but that number was not in their voter record. 

“It’s disturbing that our senior citizens who have relished and embraced voting by mail are now having to jump through some hoops, and it’s upsetting when we have to send a rejection letter [when] we can see they’ve voted with us by mail for years,” said Jacque Callanen, the Bexar County election administrator. 

Here is the entire Trib read: Texas voting law causes rejection of hundreds of mail-in ballot applications | The Texas Tribune 

I help my Dad fill out his mail ballot application. Yes, I am allowed to assist him because I am his son. He submitted his Texas ID card number and his last four SSN digits.  On my application, I just submitted my Texas driver license number. I may resubmit with both numbers. 

In even numbered years, the application has a box for which party primary ballot you are requesting. I wonder how many GOP primary ballot applications were rejected vs Democratic primary ballot applications.

In the H-Town City Council District G special election, only eight voters have submitted mail ballots. 

Yep. This is what we call voter suppression. Happening now, live, in broad daylight. You can thank your GOP legislators. Fuc_ing morons. 

“Today” show is celebrating its 70-year anniversary this morning.  It has been my morning routine my entire adult life. Heck, I have an autographed photo of Jane Pauley in my office. Her head shot from back then. 

They have been showing clips and highlights from the past 70 years. They didn’t leave out disgraced former co-host Matt Lauer. They showed him about three or four times. They didn’t feature him though. 

When it comes to Texas and California, the two largest states, why do some Texas GOPers like to knock California. When it comes to California, do they have an inferiority complex of sorts. Californians don’t waste their time ragging on Texas. Am I missing something? 

Every four weeks, the Chron takes some dough out of my bank account for subscription payment. I would not be a happy reader if they told me they wouldn’t be printing a Saturday edition like what is fixing to happen in Austin. 

I don’t have anything to say about the Texans and their coaching decisions. Their actions are all you need to know. 

I am staying with my Dad this week. Surfing the flatscreen the other night I came across a baseball flick, “Trouble with the Curve,” with Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman. It is a good watch. 

Cy Fair ISD

Folks are talking about the Cy Fair ISD today.  It is the third largest school district in Texas. 45% of the student population is Latino, 21 % Anglo, 20% African American, 9% Asian American and 3% multi-racial. 

57% of the student population is economically disadvantaged and 35 elementary schools have a bilingual education component. 

Trumpism has ushered in a new era of open racism. That’s why the Cy Fair school board trustee said what he said a few days ago.  He didn’t even try walking it back. He said he was taken out of context. That’s BS. 

Cy Fair’s student population is diverse. Racism is at a new level these days in Texas. 

Day 4 of early voting is today in the H-Town City Council special election in District G. They need to pick up their mail ballot totals. Only 182 mail ballots have been sent out. Close to 2,700 voted by mail in District G in the 2019 election. 

Manuel Barrera sent me this on my take yesterday on the Patriot Majority PAC and HISD races: 

Marc come on, get over it; I have seen some of the campaign reports that have been filed when you are involved in the campaigns. 

I have no idea what he is talking about. 

I have a confession to make. I am no longer a cable news watcher. I started watching the Hallmark Christmas flicks in mid-November and after they were done at the end the year, I didn’t go back to cable news. I just got tired of the blame game. The only national news show I watch on Sunday morning is the one on CBS with Jane Pauley because they have interesting features. 

I also still watch “Today.”

On HISD Races

Some local politicos don’t like me to write the following because it doesn’t fit their politics.  Commentary is talking about the Patriot Majority PAC that was created just for the 2021 HISD races.  

Under Texas elections financial reporting and disclosure laws, an entity like Patriot Majority must file with the Texas Ethics Commission. Canidates for HISD trustee positions file with the HISD Board Services office. 

Patriot Majority filed four monthly reports. In their final report posted last week, they disclosed that they were dissolving.  They ended up raising and spending $637,000 on three HISD races.  The $637,000 all came from one source, the American Federation of Teachers. 

Patriot Majority put serious dough into the campaigns of incumbent trustees Elizabeth Santos, Anne Sung and Holly Flynn Vilseca.  Santos benefitted with $215,000 for field, digital ads and mail. 

The way Texas elections financial reporting and disclosure laws work, a PAC or campaign can list a $50,000 expenditure for “field” to a vendor and not have to itemize the expenditure.  The public doesn’t know how many canvassers were hired, how many supervisors, how much for print – you get the picture. 

To my knowledge, this is the second time the American Federation of Teachers has weighed in with this much money in HISD races. I am talking about approaching or surpassing half a million dollars in a cycle. They did in 2017.  In 2017 and 2021, there weren’t any City of H-Town municipal races. Just the constitutional amendments and elections in smaller cities and HCC trustee races. The money has a bigger impact.

Full disclosure. Commentary’s client, the Janette Garza Lindner for HISD trustee campaign also received PAC money from outside of H-Town, but nowhere near what Patriot Majority spent. 

Two of the Patriot Majority supported candidates lost, the other won by 48 votes. 

I was at my Dad’s last night and surfing the flatscreen when I came across a Transformer movie.  It got me to thinking that Omicron could have very well been the name of the next bad guy in an upcoming sequel. 

Personal Responsibility

This is a Chron online headline today: 

Hidalgo returns Harris County to its highest COVID-19 threat level. Is anyone listening? 

I am. 

GOPers like the arsehole Gov. Greg Abbott have been pushing the personal responsibility thing on vaccines and masking and look where we are at. 

Don’t blame this on President Joe Biden and his team. Don’t blame it on Dr. Fauci. Don’t blame it on the CDC. We are here because many in the GOP played games with our lives. 

This is what I like to see from today’s Chron: 

Three major Houston hospitals will require employees to receive booster shots in the coming weeks, becoming some of the first institutions nationwide to elevate vaccination requirements amid widespread worker shortages caused by the omicron surge. 

Houston Methodist, Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine announced booster mandates to little fanfare Friday, a marked change from last year’s contentious debate over the legality and efficacy of such policies in health care settings. 

On Judge Lina Hidalgo raising the threat level, she is just letting us know how screwed up things are.  

The lead headline from the hard copy of today’s Chron: 

Why hasn’t Harvey aid reached those in need? 

Four years and four months and counting since Harvey. Abbott and P. Bush. Lousy leadership.  

The GOP is out of excuses in my book. 

Sidney Poitier 

We lost a great actor on Friday. Sidney Poitier. I grew up watching his movies.   “The Defiant Ones,” “A Rasin in the Sun,” “Lillies of the Field,” “To Sir with Love,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Little Nikita” and “Sneakers.” 

He also directed including the hit “Stir Crazy.” 

He was cool and one of the best. I always admired him because he was one the first if not the first lead movie actors who was African American and all the weight he carried on his back. He was also out there in the civil rights movement. 

“Sneakers” came out in 1992. It is an ensemble cast flick with Robert Redford, Mary McDonnell, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix and Ben Kingsley to name a few. It is just a fun light caper movie that I always enjoy when it comes on. 

We lost Bob Saget yesterday. The “Full House” star and host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” He was 65. 

We lost Dwayne Hickman yesterday.  He played Dobie Gillis. He was also in one of my favorite movies, “Cat Ballou” with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. He was 87. 

Let’s see. Texas GOP AG Ken Paxton is under indictment and is being investigated by the FBI. 

A current GOP State Rep. Is accusing GOP Ag Commissioner Sid Miller of receiving kickbacks from hemp growers. 

Another prominent Texas GOPer called public school teachers babysitters or something like that this past weekend.

That’s your GOP in Texas today. 

I filled out my mail ballot application this weekend and this time I had to add my Texas driver license ID number. Luckily, I know it by memory, but I still had to check. I filled out my Dad’s and I had to get his Texas ID number.  Someone needs to explain to me how this deters fraud in an election. 

The college football season wraps up this evening. 

The NFL Playoffs start this Saturday. 

The Texans ended the season going 4-13. 

Spring Training is supposed to start next month. 

Got it?